The founder of a Christian Aid partner organisation, which supports women widowed during the Rwandan genocide, has won The Guardian’s international development achievement award for 2010.
Thousands of women have been supported by AVEGA since the Rwandan genocide.
Odette Kayirere helped establish AVEGA (Association of Widows of the Rwandan Genocide) in 1994 to support female genocide survivors who were bereaved and, in many cases, left destitute by the killings.
The organisation now represents 25,000 women across Rwanda, and has established a range of projects to improve the living conditions of survivors and help them to overcome the anguish of their experiences.
At the presentation ceremony she said: 'It is a deserved award for everyone. I am very excited and very proud of my work, my partners, my colleagues and beneficiaries. We work together.' 'It is a deserved award for everyone...we work together.'
Almost one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed during the 1994 genocide. Many of those who survived suffered appalling injuries, lost their homes and possessions and still struggle to cope with the trauma of having seen family members murdered in front of them.
Odette herself lost her husband and had to bring up her six daughters, and several other orphans she adopted, alone. She established AVEGA after meeting a group of widows who were helping each other rebuild their lives.
AVEGA’s work with Christian Aid has included a reconstruction programme to provide shelter for hundreds of women and orphans whose homes were destroyed. More than 350 houses have been built since the project began.
Christian Aid has also helped AVEGA support women who contracted HIV after being raped during the genocide.
The Guardian’s international development achievement award award is designed to recognise the people who have made a major contribution to alleviating poverty in the developing world.